CAC aims for state tournaments

Central Arkansas Christian teams must win one game each today in the Class 3A Region 3 baseball and softball tournaments at Burns Park to advance to their respective state tournaments.

Patrick Smith’s baseball Mustangs (7-10), third seed from the 3A-6, will face Lamar (24-8), second from the 3A-5, at 12:30 p.m. in the opening round. The bracket can be viewed by clicking here

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“They’re an older team, very senior-heavy,” said Smith, in his fourth season atop the Mustang program. “From the looks of their scores, they’ve been up and down, but obviously they’re good enough to get the 2 seed. We played them in the first round of the regional tournament the last time we had a regional tournament (2019), and we won that one in a close one. That was the year we made it to the finals.”

Smith said senior Karsen Richard would be on the mound today.

“He’s won a lot of big games,” Smith said. “I’ve pitched him against the likes of North Little Rock and Sheridan. He went seven innings against Sheridan, and he struck out 17 against Episcopal.

“He’s our leader and a really good pitcher. I trust him as much as anybody.”

The Mustangs finished the regular season last week with a 1-0 loss to conference champion Palestine-Wheatley (13-6). The Patriots had prevailed in the first meeting, 15-7.

“We seem to be surging at the right time,” Smith said. “If you take a look at our scores the last three or four weeks, it’s a lot different than maybe the way we started out. We feel pretty good about the development of some of our young guys.”

The CAC-Lamar winner will advance to Friday’s noon semifinal against the winner of today’s opening game between Palestine-Wheatley, first from the 6, and Perryville, fourth from the 5. Regional semifinalists will play championship and third-place games Saturday for seeding to next week’s Class 3A State Tournament at Ashdown.

SOFTBALL

A win over Mayflower in today’s opening round of the regional softball tournament will put Lynn Brown’s Lady Mustangs in next week’s state tournament.

CAC (10-6) clinched the conference championship last week with a 9-4 win over Palestine-Wheatley for the No. 1 seed from the 3A-6 and the bracket is here

Mayflower (14-11) is the fourth seed from the 3A-5.

TRACK AND FIELD

Chris Morse’s squads competed well at the Class 3A State Track and Field Championships at Prescott on Tuesday.

“Many of our athletes had personal records,” Morse said. “I was very pleased with how well they competed. Many athletes from baseball and soccer were willing to help in the relays, and that made a difference.”

The boys 4x800 relay team of Andy Landes, Johnathan Allen, Andrew Haughaboo and Caden Cash finished fourth.

“Our 4x800 relay had a lot of success this year,” Morse said. “They will all return next year. I believe this fourth-place finish will help them see what they can accomplish. They are ready to get to work in preparation for next year.”

Madelyn Morrow took fifth in the girls 200 and sixth in the 100.

“She is a ninth-grade multi-sport athlete, and she did a great job in her first state track meet,” Morse said. “She is a very talented athlete. She competes like an upperclassman. I believe she would do well as a heptathlete.”

Haughaboo finished third in the 3,200-meter run and fifth in the 1,600.

SOCCER

Both CAC soccer teams have clinched 3A-South conference championships and will be their respective top seeds for next week’s Class 3A state tournaments.

Billy Sullivan’s Mustangs are 8-3-3 overall and 5-1-1 in conference play. They will go for the fourth state title in school history following wins in 2008, ‘15 and ‘19 and runner-up finishes in ‘13 and ‘14.

“We feel like we’re in a very good spot going into state,” said Sullivan, in his second year as a teacher at his alma mater but essentially his first season on the soccer pitch following the pandemic season of 2020. “There was a lot of uncertainty going into this year. Pandemic aside, we found ourselves in a new conference and lacking the experience this year’s players would have gotten last year.

“Heading into state as the 1 (seed) is always an accomplishment, but I’m especially proud of how our guys battled to get to this spot this year. Any one of the teams from the 3A-South that qualifies for state had a legitimate shot at the 1 seed.”

The Mustangs managed just two games last year before the COVID shutdown.

“This is almost an entirely different roster from the 2019 state championship team,” Sullivan said. “I have no doubt that there will be some first-game jitters in the first round, but I’m confident in the progress the guys have made across the season.”

Carter Lambert’s Lady Mustangs are 8-1-1 and 4-0 following the conference schedule. They’ll be going for their 10th state title after championships in 2006, ‘07, ‘08, ‘12, ‘13, ‘16, ‘17, ‘18 and ‘19.